Paving/Surfacing Equipment Operator  What They Do

Just the Facts


Paving Surfacing and Tamping Equipment Operators Career Video



Operates equipment used for applying concrete, asphalt, or other materials to road beds, parking lots, or airport runways and taxiways, or equipment used for tamping gravel, dirt, or other materials.

This career is part of the Architecture and Construction cluster Construction pathway.


A person in this career:

  • Operates machines to spread, smooth, level, or steel-reinforce stone, concrete, or asphalt on road beds.
  • Observes distribution of paving material to adjust machine settings or material flow, and indicates low spots for workers to add material.
  • Controls traffic.
  • Lights burners or starts heating units of machines, and regulates screed temperatures and asphalt flow rates.
  • Inspects, cleans, maintains, and repairs equipment, using mechanics' hand tools, or reports malfunctions to supervisors.
  • Operates tamping machines or manually rolls surfaces to compact earth fills, foundation forms, and finished road materials, according to grade specifications.
  • Starts machine, engages clutch, and pushes and moves levers to guide machine along forms or guidelines and to control the operation of machine attachments.
  • Fills the tank, hopper, or machine with paving materials.
  • Sets up and tears down equipment.
  • Coordinates truck dumping.

Working Conditions and Physical Demands

People who do this job report that:

  • You would often handle loads up to 10 lbs., sometimes up to 20 lbs. You might do a lot of walking or standing, or you might sit but use your arms and legs to control machines, equipment or tools.
  • Work in this occupation involves bending or twisting your body more than one-third of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves use of protective items such as safety shoes, glasses, gloves, hearing protection, a hard hat, or personal flotation devices
  • Exposure to pollutants, gases, dust, fumes, odors, poor ventilation, etc.
  • Lighting is either extremely bright or inadequate
  • Conditions are very hot (above 90 F) or very cold (under 32 F)
  • Work in this occupation involves using your hands to hold, control, and feel objects more than one-third of the time
  • Exposed to conditions such as high voltage electricity, combustibles, explosives, and chemicals more than once a month
  • Exposed to hazardous equipment such as saws, machinery, or vehicular traffic more than once a month
  • Exposed to hazardous situations involving possible injury such as cuts, bites, stings, and minor burns more than once a month
  • Sound and noise levels are loud and distracting
  • Work in this occupation requires being outside most of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves making repetitive motions more than one-third of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves sitting more than one-third of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves standing more than one-third of the time
  • Whole body vibrations, such as when operating a jackhammer

Working in this career involves (physical activities):

  • Judging how far away an object is, or which of several objects is closer or farther away
  • Bending, stretching, twisting, or reaching
  • Seeing clearly at a distance
  • Identifying and understanding the speech of another person
  • Lifting, pushing, pulling, or carrying objects
  • Using abdominal and lower back muscles repeatedly or over time without tiring

Work Hours and Travel

  • Regular working hours and limited travel

Specialty and Similar Careers

Careers that are more detailed or close to this career:

  • Highway Maintenance Worker -- Maintains highways, municipal and rural roads, airport runways, and rights-of-way.by patching broken or eroded pavement, repairing guard rails, highway markers, and snow fences.
  • Asphalt Raker --
  • Heavy Equipment Operator --